Medically reviewed by Minimalist Health Specialist -  Written by Aheli Sen (Fashion & Beauty Expert)  on 21st Nov 2020

Niacinamide Serums – Worth the craze?

 What is right concentration for my skin type

It is a trend! Everyone on Instagram obsesses over a specific serum that claims to end all your skin problems and is the best thing that has happened to anyone ever (in 2020, at least). All the skincare brands are coming out with their version of the serum because the name itself helps companies drive sales through the roof. So which serum are we talking about?

Yes, you got that right. We are talking about the ever-famous "Niacinamide Serum."

So what is it about this serum that makes it so unique? Well, the "Niacinamide" part, of course. 

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Let's learn about its components: 

Niacinamide is one of the three types of Vitamin B3 found in whole grains and certain green vegetables. The synthetic form of this ingredient is what goes into making the serums in question. 

So what do Niacinamide Serums do for the skin? 

  • Lipid Barrier/Moisture Retention helps the skin grow a ceramide or a lipid barrier, allowing the skin to retain moisture. 
  • Reduction of pores – niacinamide reduces pore lining, thus preventing pores from accumulating dirt and grease, ensuring reduction in pore visibility and having smoother, less bumpy skin. 
  •  Treats acne – as niacinamide reduces pore lining and ensures that dirt and grease do not accumulate. Even the worst acne can be treated right with such serums over time. 
  • Regulates oil – niacinamide regulates the secretion of the sebaceous glands and makes way for optimum oil production that the skin needs while ensuring that it can retain moisture as mentioned above.
  • Minimizes fine lines and wrinkles – niacinamide smoothes skin out. It reduces dry, flaky skin through moisture retention, and its ability to rebuild healthy skin ensures minimization of fine lines wrinkles.
  • Reduction of oxidative stress – niacinamide creates a barrier to reduce stress on the skin from environmental pollution, sunlight, toxins, etc. 
  • Treatment of hyper-pigmentation – serums with 5% or higher niacinamide concentrations can lighten dark spots; increased collagen production ensures the process. 
  • Reduces inflammation – niacinamide reduces redness and inflammation of the skin caused by eczema, acne, etc. 

How much time or how long does it take for niacinamide to reap benefits? 

Some may notice immediate changes. However, it takes 8-12 weeks for the effects to show up on using niacinamide serum for most parts. 

Asian skin and Niacinamide – effects: 

The effects of mixing kinetin and niacinamide make for a great anti-aging formula that is highly potent. The percentage of the mixture should be 0.03% kinetin to 4% niacinamide. This mixture is said to have better effects on Asian skin as an anti-aging formula than any other. It is any day better than using just niacinamide.

The spots of hyperpigmentation and inflamed points on the skin reduce when the combination is used. How? Well, through increased SC hydration status, that has more persistence than a formula containing just niacinamide. 

What are the side effects of using Niacinamide serum? 

The topical use of niacinamide serums with a high concentration can often cause irritation and redness. Thus, it is always suggested that one starts at a low concentration of niacinamide serum and builds up from there. The way to go about using niacinamide serum has been explained below. It is like working out; you work your way up. 

How does one use Niacinamide Serums? 

The first thing while using serums concentrated with niacinamide is to test what percentage suits the skin without irritating it. Skin takes time to adjust to the ingredient, and hence, it is best to start with the lowest concentrations of 2% or 5% and go up from there.

Use each percentage for a month before moving up a level on the concentration scale. It will give the skin plenty of time to adjust. Also, start with using the product twice or thrice a week to more times.

The second most important thing about using niacinamide serums is to establish a skincare routine. This routine should be like a habit, done every day, using the same products and format. It is best to use niacinamide serum after washing or cleansing your face, toning it, and before moisturizing your face. The reason to follow such a routine is that for any ingredient to work on the front, the skin needs to be clean, the product will not be able to reach the layers of skin, and thus, the skin won't benefit from it.

A toner makes the skin more receptive, and therefore, this goes after the cleaning. A serum is asked to be applied before any moisturizer because the molecules of the serum are tinier than the moisturizer. Hence, if the moisturizer is laid on the skin before the serum, the serum will not penetrate the cream to reach the skin. You could also mix the serum with the moisturizer as this means equal distribution of both.

If you experience persistent skin concerns like visibly stretched pores, pores that have become lax, or rough and bumpy skin texture, it would be best to try niacinamide in a unique concentration of no less than 20%.

Niacinamide concentration at 20% visibly reduces stretched and enlarged pores, smoothes rough (orange-peel) skin texture, and reduces bumps caused by accumulated sebum. It reveals a smoother, more refined skin texture.

One can use products that contain niacinamide around your eyes, too. A few might find that applying a moisturizer or eye cream with niacinamide improves the look of under-eye dark circles and helps soften out crow's feet' appearance, not to mention the delicate area to retain smooth skin, moisture and resist loss of firmth. 

Niacinamide – oral consumption?

Niacinamide can even be taken in the form of supplements.  

What are the benefits? Here is the list: 

  • Prevents skin cancer – the risk of melanoma, a form of skin cancer, can be reduced through niacinamide oral consumption. Niacinamide enhances DNA repair. 
  • Reduction of inflammation – oral consumption of niacinamide helps eliminate blotchiness and inflammation of the skin caused by rosacea and acne. 
  • Clarity – consumption of niacinamide supplements helps clear out skin as it internally helps in getting rid of acne or, at the very least, prevents from it occurring again and also helps in reducing the redness and flaky skin from the same. It thus gives the skin a clean look. It gives skin clarity. 

Can Niacinamide be combined with Vitamin C? 

Vitamin C AND niacinamide have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties that work well to brighten your skin and address various other skin issues.

It is often feared that these two ingredients used together can cancel each other's chemical functions out. People also tend to think that niacinamide in combination with Vitamin C, can hydrolyze into niacin, a component that can cause facial flushing. 

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The Reality:

Studies show that niacinamide, combined with most acids, can partially convert into niacin under high degrees of temperatures. It means that all one has got to do is store niacinamide in a more relaxed environment.

Vitamin C can be naturally found in the skin in abundance. If it does not go well with niacinamide, we would not have had so many studies talking about its benefits. Niacinamide and Vitamin C work great together to brighten skin, treat inflammation, reduce pigmentation spots, and reduce dryness. 

Retinol and Niacinamide – Which is better for the skin? 

Retinol is required to maintain your overall skin health. Moreover, it does come with its share of side effects that include skin feeling dry and irritated. Niacinamide improves skin barrier functions and traps moisture that can reduce skin irritation caused by retinol. 

What Is The Difference Between Niacinamide & Niacin? 

Niacin is a form of Vitamin B3. It is found in food items like yeast, fish, milk, eggs, grains & vegetables. It is even naturally found in the body.

Niacin tends to transform into niacinamide when an excess amount is present in the human body.

It can treat heart diseases or high cholesterol levels, whereas niacinamide plays no role in treating these conditions. It is used to cure a host of other issues related to your body and skin.


Niacinamide is the best thing for your skin because it helps out skin problems and suits all skin types by rebalancing sebum and moisture to the optimum level. Niacinamide serums are worth the hype and should be incorporated into our daily skincare routine.